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The SC General Assembly provided significant funding that enhanced South Carolina’s university research and innovation capacity through the South Carolina Research Centers of Economic Excellence Act ("CoEE:), the South Carolina Research University Infrastructure Act, the South Carolina Life Sciences and Renewable Energy Manufacturing Act, the Industry Partners Act, and the High Growth Small Business Job Creation Act of 2013, among other Legislation. The General Assembly has also provided significant funding to enhance workforce training, economic development, and entrepreneurial development in South Carolina. 

The CoEE invested and attracted non-state matches of approximately $400 million to create 76 endowed research chairs in 51 research centers. The Darla Moore School of Business found that as of 2021, the CoEE produced approximately $3.9 billion in economic impact and supported close to 20,000 jobs earning approximately $1.2 billion annually for people in South Carolina. 

Building on our success, the Great Jobs Through Innovation Excellence in South Carolina Act  ("Great Jobs") is proposed to invest and attract $600 million in state and non-state resources to fund Innovation Collaboration Agreements ("ICA") as powerful new economic development tools for South Carolina. ICAs are collaborations of academic research, industry innovation, economic development, entrepreneurial support, and workforce development organizations. ICAs fund:

  • South Carolina university research addressing real-world problems identified by industry and other organizations which are willing to provide matching investments in innovation centers and entrepreneurial companies which can provide great jobs in South Carolina for students graduating with advanced degrees from these university research programs; 

  • South Carolina undergraduate colleges and universities, and technical and community colleges, to create education programs to train the workforce for great skilled jobs required by innovation centers and entrepreneurial companies; and 

  • Engaging South Carolina K-12 teachers and students in these research and innovation activities to inspire the next generation of South Carolinians to pursue great jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math (“STEM”).


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As proposed, beginning in 2023 Great Jobs will receive funding from annual State appropriations of $60 million totaling $300 million by 2028. Fully implemented, total State investments and industry matches total $600 million.  Each year, additional funding will be appropriated based on measured progress and outcomes.

The Great Jobs Act will create the Great Jobs Commission to solicit, negotiate, and fund Innovation Collaboration Agreements (“ICA”), resulting in market pull innovation between a lead industry partner and a lead academic researcher center. The Commission and its staff will be proactive in making Agreements as strong as possible to align organizations receiving this and other State funding and incentives to maximize their collective impact and to hold organizations in the Agreements accountable for the commitments they make to South Carolina taxpayers.

A lead industry partner is an organization including, but not limited to, a corporation, entrepreneurial company, or hospital that identifies a problem to be solved, invests in solving the problem, and hires graduates of the research programs to further develop and commercialize the innovation in industry innovation centers and entrepreneurial companies in South Carolina. A lead academic researcher center at a South Carolina college or university designs a research collaboration to solve the problem. Great Jobs provides State funding of academic research. The industry partner match is an investment in an industry innovation center or entrepreneurial company likely to employ graduates of the research programs in South Carolina.

In addition to a lead industry partner and a lead academic research center, an Agreement:

  • must identify a lead technical college to help train the workforce necessary to grow the innovation in South Carolina and ensure participation by underserved minority and rural populations,

  • must identify a lead economic development agency or entrepreneurial support organization to ensure that appropriate economic development incentives or entrepreneurial support are available to support the growth of industry innovation centers and entrepreneurial companies, 

  • must identify a lead organization to engage K-12 teachers and students in the research and innovation funded by the ICA to inspire the students pursue great jobs in STEM careers, and

  • may include and compensate an industry alliance or chamber of commerce to help organize and manage the coalition of required partners and be accountable to the Commission

An admonition from Roger Milliken is:

Operational excellence secures today; innovation excellence secures tomorrow.


Great Jobs builds on today’s success to help secure South Carolina’s future.

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